Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Well That's A New One

Remember the Amazon contest I mentioned in my last post? Last week I read through the contest rules and requirements and now the contest makes a lot more sense and is much scarier. Turns out you need to have three pieces to submit:

1. The full novel (no problem, already done)
2. A 3000 word excerpt, usually the first few chapters (again, no problem)
3. a 300 word pitch (um….)

I saw that last part and had two reactions. The first was, well duh, that makes sense. How else would they get through 10,000 submissions (seriously, each category is capped at that number). Of course they read pitches first. Makes total sense. That was the logical part of me.

The illogical part of me went something like this:

Sure, I can write a 100,000 word novel. But how do you sum it up into 300 words? And, more importantly, make those 300 words sound so awesome that anyone reading it wants to read more? Yeah, creative writing is easy (comparatively). Marketing writing is not my thing. I work in a marketing industry in my day job, but when it comes to writing marketing text I'm always hands off, not my department. **looks around** Right. Just me here, so I have to do it.

So I panicked. Then I spent the next two hours looking up every site I could find on fantasy pitch examples and what makes a good pitch. Then I struggled with figuring out the very basic ideas of the novel like a) what is the story about (not plot but theme) and b) what's the goal of my main character? You'd think those questions would be easy to answer since I wrote the damn thing. They're not.

Fortunately, I have the most awesome alpha reader in the entire world. And better yet, she freelance writes marketing material! And she's read my story at least 3 times. I sent a panicky email to her and she promptly offered to help. Within a few hours she sent me a most incredible starting place for my 300 words. I can spout big pictures plot points and character arcs, but it really helped having an outside source boil all that down to a couple of sentences. (THANK YOU again!!)

The pitch isn't done, but at least I have a frame to work with. So now I can panic just a little bit less.

And in the meantime, over the weekend I printed out the whole novel and put it in a binder. It's the first time I've done that and it made the novel seem so much more real. I started going through it line by line and found plenty of errors and word duplications and bad phrases. Some of it is subjective, some of it really needs fixing, so I'm glad I decided not to skip that step.

So I have a little less than 2 weeks to finish the line editing, make all the corrections, and polish up the pitch. No problem…. right?